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CFP: Religion, Art, and Creativity in the Global City

114th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association
Denver  CO
November 18-22, 2015


Contemporary cities pride themselves about being havens of cutting edge creativity. They celebrate art, culture, and innovation with highly publicized festivals, glossy brochures, and clever slogans. Religiously inspired creativity, lived religious arts, and their vernacular expressions play no role in such celebrations of urban originality. Secular fashionable definitions, dominant intellectual and artistic networks, and political and economic contingencies define some features of social and cultural innovation and artistic expression as relevant, and others, like religious ones, as insignificant.
This panel examines manifestations of social, cultural, artistic, and aesthetic innovation produced by pious individuals and their communities in global cities. Papers analyze the complex and largely neglected role of faith-based urban art and creativity. They explore exemplary contexts of pious creativity and cultural innovation. Analyzing contemporary artistic production (e.g. visual arts, music), aesthetic creativity (e.g. places of worship), social and spatial configurations (e.g. places of worship as innovative cultural centers), social innovations (e.g. faith-based associations/activities), and novel cultural formats (e.g. religious events), panelists illustrate that pious individuals are artistic and creative contributors to globalized cityscapes. Religious communities are rarely seen as havens of urban art and creativity. Instead, especially, minority communities (e.g. Muslims in Europe) are often viewed with suspicion, and their creative contributions remain contentious.

Theoretically the panel engages debates about urban art and creativity, and cultural production (engaging among others Richard Florida’s concept of the “Creative City”), which understand urban innovation as originating in small circles of creative actors and neglect religiously inspired vernacular contributions to urban creative transformations. Using examples of religiously inspired art and social and cultural creativity, panelists illustrate that only a more inclusive focus on all urban constituencies can produce a thorough understanding of urban creativity and creative processes. The challenge in trying to understand urban creativity is not to applaud the usual “creative suspects,” but to examine the creative contributions of all urbanites regardless of class, ethnicity, religion, and (desired) outcomes.

Panel Organizer: Petra Kuppinger
Discussant: James Bielo

For questions and inquiries send emails to<> .

Please submit abstracts (250 words) by April 4, 2015 to<>

Petra Kuppinger
Professor of Anthropology
Department of Sociology/Anthropology
Monmouth College
Monmouth IL 61462